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How to Be There for a Friend Who Is Suicidal

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

When a friend says they are suicidal, it can be a terrifying thing to hear – especially if you don’t know how to respond. You want to be supportive and help them through this difficult time, but you don’t want to say the wrong thing and make things worse. If your friend says they are feeling suicidal, there are several things you can do to support them and be there for them while they get through this difficult time in their life. Here are some steps you can take when your friend says they are suicidal.

Ask If you're worried about a friend, the best thing you can do is ask them directly how they're feeling. This can be tough, but it's important to give them the opportunity to open up to you. Listen to them. Once your friend starts talking, really listen to what they're saying. Don't try to fix their problems or tell them what to do - just let them know you're there for them.

Listen It can be really hard to know what to say when someone confides in you that they’re thinking about suicide. The most important thing you can do is just listen. Let them know that you’re there for them and that they’re not alone. Try to stay calm and avoid judgment. Ask questions and try to understand why they’re feeling this way. Reassure them that there are other options and that things can get better.

Empathize First and foremost, it’s important to let your friend know that you empathize with them. It’s not easy carrying the weight of suicidal thoughts, and your friend needs to know that you understand what they’re going through. Try saying something like, "I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you, but I’m here for you, and I want to help."

Stay Close The most important thing you can do for a friend who is suicidal is to stay close. Check-in with them regularly, even if they seem fine. Keep the lines of communication open and let them know that you’re there for them, no matter what.

Don’t Be Afraid To Call 911 One of the scariest things about having a friend who is suicidal is not knowing what to do. If you are ever in doubt, always err on the side of caution and call 911. The operators will be able to talk you through what to do and will dispatch help if necessary.

Don’t Give Up It’s easy to feel like you’ve failed when someone you care about says they’re suicidal. But it’s important to remember that your friend is going through a tough time and needs your support. They may not want to talk about their feelings, but it's important to listen if they do bring them up. Help them get professional help, offer emotional support, and stay in touch with them regularly so you can be there for them when they need you most.

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